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This week from Charleston

June 15, 2015
Del. Stephen Skinner , Shepherdstown Chronicle

Over the last three years, I have focused on protecting consumers and ratepayers in the House of Delegates. This is one of the reasons why I split from the majority of my House colleagues and voted against Senate Bill 234 this year. As some may have heard, Jefferson County Public Service District customers will be paying higher rates as a result of this bad legislation. In addition to increasing the rates of PSD users, it will also move oversight of some PSD's from the Public Service Commission and place it in the hands of county commissions. This does not apply (yet) to the Jefferson County PSD.

However, the party about increasing rates does apply here. As the Jefferson County PSD Chair Peter Appignani recently noted, Its the law and we dont have a choice. Senate Bill 234 requires each PSD in the State to set up a capital reserve fund by setting aside ? of their annual operation and maintenance budget. It is likely Jefferson County PSD customers can expect at least a 12% increase in sewer rates as a result.

In addition to the 12% or more sewer rate increase, Senate Bill 234 established a $7.1 million wastewater project that will result in an increase of about $8 per household. Each of the 2,400 customers of JCPSD are looking at over $200 increase over the next year.

When Senate Bill 234 reached the House in March, I refused to support it, although Delegates Upson and Espinosa did. This bill was pushed by lobbyists whose sole purpose was to create more revenue for utilities. As legislators we have a duty to represent the interests of our constituents, not the interests of lobbyists. I tried to amend the bill in committee, but the amendments failed.

The last thing we need is to raise the rates on current PSD ratepayers. The JCPSD customers rates are high enough. We need to factor in the pressure of development without hurting current payers. Current payers should not subsidize expansion for future customers. I am disappointed with this legislation and the failure to understand the effects this would have on everyday ratepayers.

 
 
 

 

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